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TfL should fund & fast-track minicab drivers to help them become London black cabbies says ADCU

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) have said that Transport for London (TfL) should fund and fast-track private hire drivers through the world's toughest taxi test "The Knowledge", so they can become a licensed hackney carriage black taxi driver.

In a tweet posted by the union, a spokesperson said: "Most PHV drivers work extremely long hours and know London like the back of their hand. It makes sense therefore for TfL to have a fast track programme.

"By funding a salary for say, a year long conversion course would mean that TfL could interview and select the very best of PH."

The comment has caused quite a stir with members of the public and licensed black taxi drivers.

One Twitter user hit back, saying: "They wouldn't need a fast track then if they have this "know it like the back of their hand knowledge". If what you're saying is true then they'll absolutely smash it in appearances scoring very high & be through the system insanely quickly anyway, so no need for a fast track."

Another user slammed the union's request, saying : "No never. No shortcuts. When I started the knowledge I was PHD working for Addison Lee, working every day, going to knowledge school 4 times a week, riding a moped 4 times a week. I managed to get my badge under 3 years. So shut up with your stupid statement. No shortcuts."

But the ADCU had something to say, claiming that many private hire drivers can't afford to study for 3 years and fund the cost of Knowledge training. They responded: "Really important for TfL to design and fund a PHV to Knowledge fast track qualification, including salary and costs."

As London’s taxis can be hailed in the street and asked to go anywhere, taxi drivers must have a thorough knowledge of London. This is why taxi drivers have to learn and pass the world-famous Knowledge.

There are thousands of streets and landmarks within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. Anyone who wants to drive an iconic London cab must memorise them all.

The Knowledge was introduced as a requirement for taxi drivers in 1865 and requires applicants to take the time to learn every road and point of interest within a specified area.

Facing a number of face-to-face tests; known as “Appearances”, 'wannabe' cabbies have to be able to recall the most direct route between any two points of interest in which the examiner wishes. The applicant will not know what will be asked until sitting opposite the examiner, meaning they must be able to operate under pressure. The number of “Appearances” an applicant must complete, depends on the individual. The better they are, the less tests they will need to take - but many probably face anywhere between 10 & 20.

Mastering the Knowledge typically takes students three to four years; it's a challenge, but plenty of help and support is available if you are determined. As a taxi driver, you can choose when and where you work and how much you earn, although with a number of strains put on the trade in recent years, earning potentials are not a definite as once were.

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